The traditional Eastern European Gaming Summit (EEGS) held on the end of November, in Inter Expo Center, Sofia, for 8th consecutive year became a hot spot for discussions and current gaming trends presentations. Experts, professionals, international associations representatives from offline and online gaming and tourism industry as well as national regulators from around the world chose Sofia in order to discuss the latest trends and topics of the gaming industry. EEGS is held under the patronage of the Bulgarian Trade Association of Manufacturers and Operators in the gaming industry (BTAMOGI) and since its first edition in 2008 it has become a networking and discussion nexus in Eastern Europe.
More than 50 distinguished industry experts have presented their competent opinions and practical experience in 2 days covering 14 panels dedicated to the crucial steps of the gaming industry evolution during the year. Over 250 industry representatives from more than 27 countries amongst were Bulgaria, Romania, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Malta, Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania and even China and Unites States.
In the scope of the panel discussions during the first day of EEGS were presented the latest legislation updates from European countries, fraud prevention and money laundering, IMGL Masterclass, top challenges which the Eastern European industry is facing, the advantages and myths about the convergence between land-based and online gaming, measures and examples for responsible gambling and interactive discussions on how to enhance customer experience in both land-based and online operations.
During the first two panels international gaming law experts presented key regulatory changes from Western and Eastern Europe. Among the highlights were the opening of the Romanian market for remote gaming operators, new law amendments in Lithuania and Czech Republic and overview of the recently adopted regulatory frameworks in Hungary and Portugal. The German licensing fiasco and the perspectives for the adoption of the Dutch law were also introduced, followed by updates on the current situation in UK, Isle of Man and Malta. The opening of the panel discussion dedicated to regulatory updates from Eastern Europe was marked by few words regarding the importance of regulation. “Any regulator when engaging in the process of re-regulation, must ask themselves – What is good regulation? The two main things to keep in mind are: Are we able to channel effectively to the regulated offer? Secondly, is the national law that we are putting into place complying with the EU law?” stated the moderator Ekaterina Alexandrova, Senior Legal Advisor at the European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA).The audience’s attention was caught by the “Protection against fraud and money laundering” panel, which has been one of the hot topics for the industry this year where leading representatives of international associations and organizations presented the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) and its implementation for gambling establishments. According to Paul Davis, Barrister & Solicitor at Group General Counsel “This is very much the time of anti-money laundering and countering of terrorist financing (AML/CTF) which are a huge buzzword and a huge watchword in our industry and legislation has to be brought up to speed and processes, and procedures must keep pace with the changes that are required in the international marketplace… Legislation needs to live, breath and evolve!” Dr. Corinne Gatt from Malta Gaming Authority shared her concerns that “It is still very difficult on how we are going to deal with 28 different implementations of the Directive, 28 different risk based assessments, 28 different CDD and SDD processes. This is a very big challenge and not only for the authorities, but it is going to be a little bit more difficult for operators.”
During the next session the official partnering association International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) hosted the traditional IMGL Masterclass, which this year was dedicated to the topic “Point of Consumption in the UK and elsewhere and its impact on so called offshore jurisdictions”.
The second part of the conference day was covered by the challenges and perspectives of the gaming industry development in the Eastern Europe followed by the current Responsible Gaming topic. The dynamic development of the gaming industry in the region has marked many challenges for the remote gaming operators, which were outlined during the session and good practices were exchanged by the honorable speakers.
The next discussion marked the Responsible Gaming which has occurred to be one of the hot topics particularly in the Eastern Europe for the past year, but also worldwide in general. The dedicated panel observed players protection from gambling addiction and good practices by the two biggest Romanian gaming associations – ROMBET and ROMSLOT and Bulgaria and was moderated by Pieter Remmers who is well versed in the subject from many years.
The pressing question “Does remote gaming have a negative impact on the land-based industry?” was raised firstly during the press conference and secondly, more broadly reviewed during the panel dedicated to the convergence between land-based and online business. Should the land-based industry see an enemy in the face of the online or this opportunity to work together hand in hand could become a winning synergy? The fruitful discussion was also a matter of great interest with a special support by the speakers from one of the leading companies, which also gave useful ideas for those who plan to start an online business.
And last, but not least was the interactive session “Customer experience transformation”, in which 5 distinguished experts from land-based and online sectors presented tips and strategies to operators in a discussion format. Delegates had the opportunity to learn and benefit from the experts’ experience on how to understand, attract and build strong relationships with their customers.
Traditionally, at the first day of the conference the Regulators Roundtable was held, under the patronage of the Bulgarian State Commission on Gambling, which historically has been a “hot topics” discussion between Regulators from around the world where they are able to exchangegood practices and know-how. Participants from the following countries: Portugal, Lithuania, Malta, Gibraltar, Aland Islands and Bulgaria had the chance to discuss this year’s topic “Online gambling and administrative cooperation between regulators”.
The second conference day began with a special initiative hosted for a second year during EEGS – the Global Gaming Woman networking event, organized together with the American Gaming Association. Gambling tourism has been one of the key factors for the gaming industry development in the Eastern European region and its dedicated panel outlined the current situation and perspectives for its improvement. On the spotlight of this panel was Carlos Siu Lam, a researcher from Macao, , who attracted the audience and all delegates with interesting examples about the junket business experienced in the Asian gambling capital.
The 8th edition of Eastern European Gaming Summit marked the launch of the Gaming StartUp Challenge – a competition towards new companies in the gaming sector in which they can present their bold and innovative ideas. With inspiring presentation and attractive game development, driven by music, Dimitar Tsaprev from Dreamteck conquered the audience and jury and won the first place in Gaming StartUp Challenge 2015.
Traditionally, the sessions during the second day focus on the trends in different gaming product verticals. The sports betting panel highlighted the rising popularity of virtual and eSports. According to Borislav Borisov, Chief Operating Officer at UltraPlay “eSports can be considered like the “football” in sports betting for the Millenials” and their popularity will keep rising in the next few years as that generation come into the focus of operators worldwide. Virtual sports were presented by one of the leading companies in this product vertical – Vermantia.
During the session dedicated to social and mobile gaming were presented the emerging opportunities that come up with the thriving of social platforms and social casino gaming. Also, this panel highlighted the multi-channel gaming as a key factor for the future success of all gaming products and how to stay competitive in an increasingly digital environment.
One of the most interesting sessions being last but not least in the 8th edition of EEGS turned to be the panel dedicated to the most exciting poker matters and what are the perspectives in changing its decline. Nicolas Levy, co-founder of the popular poker social platform RankingHero analyzed the different motivations of poker players and shared case studies to highlight what works and what doesn’t when devising strategies for a growing poker liquidity. Vinko Dobrosevic, Founder of IGSoft and CEO of PokerKing presented the evolution of poker followed by Lydia Barbara, Head of Pegasus Gaming Solutions made a fruitful presentation about the transparency problems. In conclusion, the 8th edition of the most significant forum for the gaming industry in the Balkans and Eastern Europe was very successful and fruitful for all delegates and participants. Organizers are delighted with how the event went and extremely thankful to all speakers, delegates and everyone who have participated in that successful edition! We are all looking forward to the next edition in November 2016!
Lyubomira Petrova, PR Expert
January 14th, 2016
Tom Light -SBTech Interview- (EEGReport – Magazine – Issue2 – February – May 2016)
EEGReport Magazine: Eastern European markets are growing at an incredible rate and I don’t think that anyone can argue about the fact the sports betting is the biggest niche when it comes to online gambling in Eastern Europe. Do you feel that this is accurate?
Tom Light: In most cases yes, we see that in countries such as Bulgaria, Czech, Hungary, Lithuania & Poland, sports betting is accountable for 75%-90% of the Gaming GGR, which includes Sports, Casino, Poker & Bingo. For markets like Latvia, Romania & Slovakia Sports is still a major sector within the gaming industry being accountable for 30%-50% of the GGR.
In play in particular has been a growth denominator in the past years for online sports-betting, allowing the punter roll-over his funds several time during one match.
Beyond the turnover it is important to mention that the margin is much high when it comes to sports betting, as well as the image of sportsbetting, which says that if you are good and knowledgeable you can make money.
We should even see a bigger increase during the Euros coming this June, as many non-punters would start betting on their favorite reprehensive teams.
EEGReport Magazine: Can you maybe give examples of countries where this isn’t happening and casino or other gambling products might surpass the sport betting audience? You can even mention markets that aren’t yet legalized in terms of licensing.
Tom Light: Romania is an example for a country that up to last year had 10% more turnover on casinos then on sportsbetting, I think this is related to regulations and since the new regulations came in to place I’m sure that during 2016 sportsbetting GGR will surpass casino.
To put in perspective, globally, the sportsbetting GGR is bigger than the all the other gaming sectors…Combined!
EEGReport Magazine: There has been a lot of innovation when it comes to sports betting products, and with one of the major European soccer event coming up this June, are you guys busy in the lab trying to bring new technology that will make online sports betting easier or even more attractive?
Tom Light: These days we are simply talking about personalization, which in core is the knowledge the operator has for each of his punters, the more knowledge the more personalized. Data can be gathered via the most common logs of all betting activities, behavior on the website, but even polls and ‘Mark as favorite’ buttons. Mapping this business intelligence is not a simple task, but the operators who are able to do so will have amazing insights on their clients.
Once data is collected and offer must be created via various algorithm and rules, based on many variables such as favorite teams/leagues, past winnings, past losings, trigger-happy cashout, etc… in order to create various offers for example:
“Manchester United did the job for you last time, can they do it again?” (While adding a betting button).
These offers are much more effective and are much more converting then just showing a generic offer to all customers or even to customer segments.
Another way to create offers, is using cross-player data, same as amazon does, with:
“Customer who bought these products, also liked XYZ …”. The likes of Bettorlogic offers this type of service which is taking the betting behavior of punters who made similar bets and are informing the customer which bets he might like. Since this is a more social way of bet recommendation, this might be more appealing to the punter which might not driven from the ‘house’ recommendations, as much as the activities of other partners.
The last part is to serve this offer in a proper matter, which can be targeted ads, SMS marketing, push notifications, widgets / pop-up on the site, or even gentle highlights of bet markets across the page.
EEGReport Magazine: Most of the Eastern European countries have qualified for the EURO 2016, this means that you don’t have to a betting fanatic to bet on your country during such events. Everyone will do it for at list the period on which the tournament is being played. What does this mean for online sports betting operators and especially software providers?
Tom Light: Back in the day, it was very clear, if you are an Italian operator, and there is a game ‘Italy VS Portugal’, you are as much gambling as all the punters on your sportsbook – the risk was one sided, and the results were sometimes amazing but other times destructive.
In today’s world, this scenario cannot happen, the punters are betting 85% of the times on in-play live betting where the bet markets are very liquid, such as fast markets – what will happen in the next one minute, corners, 1×2 rest of the match, etc… all these markets spread the risk around various bet selection making the operator the desired margin instead of a roller coaster.
EEGReport Magazine: Looking further into the future. What are in your opinion the top markets that are going to open up for online gambling in Eastern/Central Europe?
Tom Light: I would look at Netherlands, Czech Republic, Portugal, and the evolving of the Romanian market.
Netherlands being a market proven in the .com market with high PV.
Czech Republic which is the Eastern European diamond, which is now dominated by TipSport, iFortuna, Sazka, Synot and StarTyp will open up Jan 2017 for additional licenses by international companies.
Portugal, with mass-market attraction for sportsbetting, various .com case studies such as BWIN and Betsson(Dhoze).
And of course the Romanian market which is proving to be very fruitful by the day.
Tom John Light Biography – (EEGReport – Magazine – Issue2 – February – May 2016)
Tom John Light was born and presently resides in Tel Aviv, Israel. Tom has lived and traveled worldwide and is highly knowledgeable and experienced working in various global regions.
Tom has been working in the gaming industry for many years with a focus on casino operations and sports betting. Currently Tom acts as Vice President of Business Development at SBTech. He is renowned for his role as Vice President of Business Development at FashionTV. Additionally Tom has successfully served as CEO for several online gaming companies such as 7Red Casino and 1King Casino.
Tom is recognized for his high involvement with the creation of the Online How-To Guide ‘eHow’ and has been featured/published in various interviews and articles.
Gal Ackerman Crowdtrading – (EEGReport – Magazine – Issue2 – February – May 2016)
EEGReport Magazine: In the last couple of years we have seen a growth in the launch of financial programs, but none of them seems to attract so many new traders as Trade360. The innovation which came with CrowdTrading seems to have swept the enthusiastic traders off their feet and they now choose your platform for their trading activities. What is the real innovation behind this phenomenon?
Gal Ackerman: In a nutshell, CrowdTrading is about taking the big data that banks and brokers rely on and putting it in the hands of the people. Revealing how new market trends develop in real-time is really the perfect way for new Traders to get a feel for the rhythm of the markets, and as their knowledge grows, their profits should too!
EEGReport Magazine: When it comes to financial trading programs and platform, a huge concern always is raised and it’s a concern the EU is trying to battle daily. It is concerns regarding Money Laundering. How is Trade360 with such problems, has there been any incident, is it tracked and reported?
Gal Ackerman: We have a talented and experienced team dedicated to AML. So far, we’ve managed to identify and prevent the handful of attempts that have been made to cheat the system. We’ve reported each incident to the appropriate authorities and we’re confident that we’ll continue to stay well ahead of the curve and maintain our all-important integrity.
EEGReport Magazine: Since Trade360 is a rather new financial service form, it falls within the newer and stricter operating guidelines issued by CySEC. How are client deposits protected and standards executed in this enhanced regulation?
Gal Ackerman: Our legal team in Cyprus is in constant contact with CySEc to ensure full regulatory compliance. Our clients’ funds are held securely in segregated accounts at top-tier EU banks and our customer support team is always working to ensure the highest standards of service across the board.
EEGReport Magazine: How are the affiliates taking advantage in promoting this innovative way of trading? There certainly has to be a high demand for marketing materials and payouts. We’ve seen that there is a top $650 CPA for affiliates.
Gal Ackerman: The growth in our Affiliates Programme has been exponential, and we’re all very proud to be part of it. We know that to attract the finest Affiliate talent, we need to pay the best CPA, and I’m so pleased that there have been so many substantial payouts in such a short time. Our USPs are proving to be super-appealing to clients, feedback from Affiliates is universally positive, and it’s very gratifying that collateral take-up is so high.
EEGReport Magazine: As we know, you have always been in the Financial industry. In your expert opinion, can there still be room for innovation in these trading platforms? We have witnessed so many these couple of years, that gave access for individuals that did not know anything about trading to start and venture into this great niche.
Gal Ackerman: I think there will be major convergence between people’s social, leisure and economic networks over the next few years, with advances in augmented reality enabling us to multi-task far more effectively. And with the growth of decentralized, crowd-based and peer-to-peer financial services, I think we’re going to see some very interesting developments in terms of synergy, gamification and crowd investing. Watch this space!
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